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Man pleads guilty to 1999 East End murder

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A man whose DNA linked him to the 1999 murder of a Charleston woman pleaded guilty Monday in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Daniel Richard Turner, 46, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Terry Clark, 41, who was found strangled to death and nude on the side of U.S. 119 just outside Walton.

Turner faces 10 to 40 years in prison when Circuit Judge Jim Stucky sentences him Aug. 29. He has been incarcerated in Tennessee on drug charges since 2007 and is set to complete that sentence next year.

"The police worked so hard on this case for so many years and eliminated a number of suspects," said Kanawha County assistant prosecutor Reagan Whitmyer.

Blood and semen collected during Clark's autopsy and at Clark's apartment at 1528 Lewis St. were entered into the Combined DNA Indexing System (CODIS). After more than a decade, the system provided Turner's name.

Charleston police Sgt. Bobby Eggleton traveled to Memphis to talk to Turner in jail.

After talking for a while, Turner eventually told Eggleton what he believed happened the night of Clark's death. He claimed it was an accident and said he had been set up.

Turner said he had gone to Clark's East End apartment to make a drug deal. Clark, who sometimes worked as a prostitute, according to a transcript of the interview, was in bed with Turner when a male and female rushed into the room.

A fight broke out and at some point Clark got involved in the altercation, hitting Turner on the back, shoulders and neck with a boot, he told police.

"[Clark] was hitting me with a shoe," Turner said, according to the transcript. Somehow the shoestring "got around her throat because that's what made her finally settle down. She wouldn't stop hitting me with it so, somehow, I got it and wrapped it around her. It all happened so fast," he told Eggleton.

In a panic, Turner said he grabbed his clothes, threw Clark over his shoulder, got in his truck and sped out of town. Turner admits he was high the night Clark was killed.

Turner drove for almost an hour until pulling over on a narrow shoulder of U.S. 119 near Walton. Eggleton said in a previous interview with the Gazette that Taylor dragged Clark from his vehicle and left her on the side of the road.

On Monday, Charleston police Lt. Steve Cooper said after the hearing he felt relieved Turner had pleaded guilty to the crime.

"The nature of the crime was so violent. We worked for so many years trying to get justice for the victim and family," Cooper said.

Several of Clark's cousins attended the hearing, according to Whitmyer, who said they were satisfied with the plea arrangement.

"She was a real person and a very valued and loved member of her family. [Her family] knew she had problems, but that didn't diminish the love they had for her. They really emphasized that to us," the prosecutor said.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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